UCSF Fresno
Medical Education
155 N Fresno St
Fresno, CA 93701
Tel: (559) 499-6400

Corinna Kaarlela, UCSF News Director
Brandy Nikaido, Regional Director of Communications, UC Office of the President
Phone: 559.241.7512, Cell: 559.313.6539
Web: www.fresno.ucsf.edu, www.ucsf.edu

December 2 , 2005


FRESNO , CA – UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program has teamed up with Hablamos Juntos, a project supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), to improve communication between health care providers and patients who speak little or no English.

Approximately 336 languages are spoken or signed in the U.S; the largest language group is Spanish. Language barriers are a serious problem for health care providers where clear communication between patients and their doctors is essential for patients to receive safe, high quality health care.

RWJF established the Hablamos Juntos (which translates to “we speak together”) project in 2002 and has invested $10 million in 10 demonstration sites around the country. The program seeks to develop practical and affordable solutions to increase the availability and quality of interpretation services, develop useful health-related materials for limited-English proficient patients, and to produce symbols-based health care signage. In October 2005, the Hablamos Juntos national program office moved into the UCSF Fresno Center for Medical Education and Research in downtown Fresno, California to implement the second phase of the initiative, scheduled to launch in spring 2006.

During phase two, best practices will be tested within the UCSF Fresno clinical setting and further refined for use throughout the country. The project will focus on developing health materials in languages other than English.

Written materials such as forms and handouts support the communication taking place during a health visit, and are an important source of health information. Health care organizations are required by federal law to translate and produce such vital documents for patients speaking little or no English. Translations of the documents need to convey information across language, culture and knowledge differences.

“Working with the projects across the country, we’ve learned a lot about the challenges and the poor quality of translated health text found in health organizations,” explains Yolanda Partida, director of Hablamos Juntos. “We found a critical need for practical ways that health organizations can assure the quality of printed materials provided to their limited-English speaking patients.”

According to Partida, problems encountered with translated materials include poor grammar, inappropriate word use, writing and spelling errors, and the lack of translator training . Broad misconceptions about the translation process and the lack of effective methods to evaluate translated text contribute to poor quality translations.

“In Fresno County alone, roughly 40 percent of people speak a language other than English at home so it’s only fitting that the Hablamos Juntos national program office make its home here,” says Joan Voris, associate dean at UCSF Fresno. “We’re looking forward to this partnership and to creating opportunities for limited-English speaking patients to have access to the same health information as all other patients.”


To learn more about Hablamos Juntos, visit www.hablamosjuntos.org

UCSF Fresno is a major educational and clinical branch of the UCSF School of Medicine. Since its inception 30 years ago, UCSF Fresno has graduated approximately 60 resident physicians annually in one of seven specialties, totaling more than 2,000 to date. UCSF Fresno faculty and medical residents also care for the overwhelming majority of the area’s underserved populations at partner hospitals and clinics in the area. For more information, visit www.fresno.ucsf.edu

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 30 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org